Hugh Bowman and Werther have gone down by a neck in the Group One Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin in Japan won by Mikki Rocket.
The John Moore-trained Werther, the 2015/16 Hong Kong Horse of the Year, was having his second start for four months in Sunday's 2200m-race after a series of setbacks.
"We are so proud of him. He is all heart," Moore said.
"He's a horse that knows where the winning post is and he showed a lot of fortitude to hit the line.
"I don't like running second, never do, but from a Hong Kong point of view, we've shown just how good our best stayer is.
"To take on the best of the Japanese and to run as well as he did, it just shows - don't take Hong Kong's horses lightly."
Formerly trained in New Zealand by Andrew Campbell, Werther was runner-up in the 2015 SA Derby and Queensland Derby before being sent to Hong Kong.
Bowman. who rode in Sydney last Wednesday, said Werther's effort to come from behind was impressive.
"If he had been aimed solely for this with a preparation to suit, rather than this being something of an afterthought with only the one mile run under him, I think he would have won," Bowman said.
"The one run at a mile up to a Japanese 2200m race is not easy and, even though these races suit his style, his condition just gave out late.
"Full credit must go to John and the stable for getting him to this level at this distance and for getting him to run so well.
"To be honest, even though we didn't win, I couldn't have been happier with the horse's performance."
Moore confirmed Werther would be aimed at the Group One Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on International day at Sha Tin in December.
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